Sask. unveils economic stimulus package

Saskatchewan today announced a $7.5 billion two-year capital plan as a way to help the province recover economically from COVID-19.

However, only $2 billion of that is new money and much of the extra spending will come in 2021-22.

The stimulus package includes the $2.7 billion in crown and executive government spending that was announced in the 2020-21 estimates in March just as the pandemic was taking hold, and the $2.8 billion projected for the following year.

The new spending announced May 6 includes more than $300 million for highway projects, $200 million for health infrastructure and $135 million for education infrastructure.

A government news release said the additional money “will balance the need for smaller, short-term projects to jump-start economic activity and get people back to work quickly with longer-term, large-scale projects that leverage multiple sectors.”

About $1.37 billion is designated for large projects.

The highway money will be used for thin membrane surface upgrades and passing lanes, as well as $46 million for municipal roads and airports.

Approximately $181 million is earmarked for renewal projects to reduce deferred maintenance and operating costs.

A new Municipal Economic Enhancement Program worth $150 million will offer per capita funding for projects across the province.

Premier Scott Moe said the package will help municipalities.

Both the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association welcomed the news, saying the money would help economic recovery.

Some of the projects outside of the typical health and education facilities will include dams and water supplies, parks and equipment.

SaskPower is projected to spend $1.77 billion over two years, while SaskEnergy will spend $807 million and the other crowns a total of $859.4 million.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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